Consumers’ preferences for customer service channels are rapidly changing. And it’s not just the younger generation of consumers — there’s disruption and change across all ages and demographics. Our 2013 data about communication channels that customers use for customer service is available in my latest report. Here are some key data points:
- Customers want companies to value their time. 71% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
- Voice is the most used communication channel for service. Voice, which 73% of customers use for customer service, is still the most widely used channel. However, web self-service and digital channels like chat and email are following close behind.
- Chat is increasingly popular. Online chat adoption among customers has risen from 30% in 2009 to 43% in 2012. In addition, it has the highest satisfaction rating of any channel used, after voice.
- The demise of email is premature. Email remains the third most widely used communication channel among US online adults. In the past three years, email usage has increased by two percentage points, from 56% to 58%.
- Social channels are increasingly important. Online communities and Twitter have seen increases in usage rates in the past three years. However, satisfaction remains low for these channels, as companies have not invested in best practices for managing interactions on these channels.
What this means is that companies must understand their customers’ communication channel preferences and be prepared for them to change over time. This also means that companies must choose technology ecosystems that provide the business agility and flexibility to meet customer channel demands today and in the future.